James Beard's Books

James Beard (1903–1985): The Complete Works
By Alexandra Zohn and Peggy Grodinsky

Even though over the years we have told you countless times that James Beard wrote more than 20 cookbooks during the course of his career, somehow seeing them piled together on the floor of our office while we put together this annotated bibliography was an awesome sight. The recipes they contain number in the thousands, and they span the regional cooking of America and the cuisines of the world. But the complete works aren’t merely the measure of the man or his vast culinary knowledge; they are the measure of the times, too. The James Beard collection is a slice of American history. Written between 1940 and 1983, the books tell us through the language of food what we had and what we longed for, who we were and whom we hoped to become. Astonishingly, about half of them remain in print today. Besides serving as sources of reliable recipes, Beard’s books are a testament to our appetites and our interests, a premonition of the brave new epicurean world we were on the verge of discovering. He had an entrée (and an appetizer or two) to that new world, and he encouraged everyone to dig in.

Hors d’Oeuvre and Canapés
(M. Barrows & Co., 1940. Revised in 1963 and 1985.)
Beard wrote his first cookbook in just six weeks. His stated aim was to eliminate “all the various horrors prevalent on the routine hors d’oeuvre tray—cottony bread and sagging toast, spreads and cheese of no identifiable flavor, multicolored pastry-tube piping, and tidbits on toothpicks coyly stuck into a grapefruit.” The recipes came from the repertoire of Hors d’Oeuvre, Inc., a phenomenally successful business that he’d launched with Bill and Irma Rhode (who were siblings). In a foreword to a revised edition in 1967, Beard wrote he was very gratified to find that a book he’d written more than 25 years earlier remained in demand. What would he say if he knew that Hors d’Oeuvre and Canapés was still being reprinted as late as 1999?! Buy this book now!

Cook It Outdoors
(M. Barrows & Co., 1941.)
The dust jacket promoted Cook It Outdoors as “a man’s book written by a man who understands not only the healthy outdoor eating and cooking habits, but who is an expert at the subtle nuances of tricky flavoring as well. And it will be invaluable to the woman who aims to please the masculine members of the household.” Cook it Outdoors offered a dozen recipes for hamburgers (among them the San Francisco burger with garlic: “man-sized” patties and toasted French bread “a-drip with butter”); the Baghdad burger with eggplant and barbecue sauce; and—some 60 years before Daniel Boulud’s much ballyhooed db burger—the Pascal burger with ground lamb and milk-soaked lamb kidneys. But Beard didn’t limit himself to recipes for food. The confirmed bachelor offered his recipe for a successful marriage as well: let the husband control the fire, and the wife the kitchen. Buy this book now!

Fowl and Game Cookery
(M. Barrows & Co., 1944. Retitled in 1979 as James Beard’s Fowl & Game Bird Cookery, and in 1989 as Beard on Birds.)
Fowl and Game Cookery enumerated ways to prepare every manner of chicken, turkey, duck, squab, pigeon, goose, pheasant, quail, partridge, snipe, woodcock, and dove. We particularly like the recipe for Wild Duck in the Mud: “Choose a young duck from your catch, remove the head, slit the vent, and draw the entrails...Roll the whole thing, feathers and all, in thick, gooey (but clean-smelling) mud or clay. It should be caked on thickly to make it airtight. Place in hot coals...until the mud or clay dries out. Split the coating and remove; the feathers will come along with it. Add a little butter and salt and pepper, and eat away.”  Fowl and Game Cookery caused “little stir,” according to Beard biographer Evan Jones. Nevertheless, the 1979 and 1989 editions proved Beard’s prescience, or at the least, his durability. Buy this book now!

The Fireside Cook Book: A Complete Guide to Fine Cooking for Beginner and Expert
(Simon and Schuster, 1949. Retitled in 1982 as The Fireside Cookbook. Reprinted in 2008, in hardcover.)
The Fireside Cook Book was a comprehensive text, not unlike The Joy of Cooking but with more personality. The charming color illustrations by Alice and Martin Provensen deserve credit, as does Beard’s voice, apparent in such menu suggestions as “Dinner for a Gloomy Day When All the Leftovers Are Gone.” The book contained more than 1,000 recipes, typically a basic preparation, such as cream soup, followed by a set of variations—cream of asparagus, cream of corn, and cream of celery. Beard made no bones about his desire to create an American cuisine, writing, “America has the opportunity, as well as the resources, to create for herself a truly national cuisine that will incorporate all that is best in the traditions of the many people who have crossed the seas to form our new, still young nation.” The volume was, according to Jones, “the most lavishly produced American cookbook to date,” and Beard made his culinary reputation on it. Buy this book now!

Paris Cuisine
(Little, Brown, 1952.)
Beard co-wrote Paris Cuisine with British journalist Alexander Watt. Arranged by arrondissement, the book served as a guide to 60 Parisian restaurants, encompassing haute establishments, bistros, and cafés. It was the first such guidebook published in English after World War II, and it included some 200 restaurant recipes. Beard and Watt suggested substitutions as necessary; in a recipe for Steak de fromage vaudois, for instance, they advised readers to substitute Cheddar if neither Gruyère nor Emmenthal could be found. In the forward of the first British edition (1953), Beard and Watt related that when they decided to publish Paris Cuisine in postwar England, they were warned that “at this stage of history it is sheer brutality to submit so succulent a book to the British public.”

The Complete Book of Barbecue & Rotisserie Cooking
(Maco Magazine Corp., 1954. Retitled in 1958 as New Barbecue Cookbook, in 1966 as Jim Beard’s Barbecue Cookbook, and in 1967 as James Beard’s Barbecue Cookbook.)
These were the barbecue years, when presidents like Ike were photographed at the barbecue grill. Beard’s definition of barbecue and rotisserie cookery was elastic—he included recipes and suggestions for picnic food such as sandwiches, oil-and-garlic sauce for spaghetti (in a chapter on “Serving Sauces”), and “clam chowder for a big party.” This slim volume was an early example of a cookbook genre that remains popular today. Buy this book now!

Complete Cookbook for Entertaining
(Maco Magazine Corp., 1954.)
The Complete Cookbook for Entertaining, a small book from a man who was already known as a stylish host, was arranged by menus. Housewives could flip through its pages for ideas on what to serve at luncheons for the bridge club, dinners for very important people, a Swedish dinner, a Russian buffet, and a birthday party for the head of the house.

How to Eat Better for Less Money
(Simon and Schuster, 1954. Revised in 1970 “with a helpful supplement on budget wines and spirits.”)
It puzzled us that Beard chose to write a book on kitchen economies at a time when the nation’s economy was prospering as never before. Perhaps it was his own perpetual inability to save money that prompted him. He and co-author Sam Aaron believed that the book filled “a gap in the cookbook field—the need for a realistic, down-to-earth approach to the subject of eating well without straining the food budget.” To them, this did not equal deprivation. As they wrote, “There is no need to go to the penny-pinching extreme of serving meat loaf made with half a pound of hamburger and one cup of oatmeal, as some people do. Within the limitations of your budget you can set a table that has variety and distinction. You can serve gourmet food.” Aaron, a wine-and-spirits authority, told readers how to drink better for less money, too. Buy this book now!

James Beard’s Fish Cookery
(Little, Brown, 1954. Retitled in 1976 and 1987 (paperback) as James Beard’s New Fish Cookery.)
Beard’s abiding love for the West Coast, especially his native Oregon, is much in evidence in his comprehensive James Beard’s Fish Cookery. It was “the first of his sustained efforts to reflect his own history as an eater and a cook,” Jones wrote. In the introduction, Beard noted, “Many Americans eat fish regularly without knowing what fish they are eating.” He tried to remedy that by offering advice and recipes for more than 80 species of fish and shellfish, as well as frogs, snails, and turtles. Buy this book now!

Casserole Cookbook
(Maco Magazine Corp., 1955.)
The Casserole Cookbook was a product of a time when one-dish dinners dominated the culinary landscape. Some recipes in this small paperback volume are best forgotten—Corned Beef Hash in a Casserole instructs the cook to dot two cans of corned-beef hash with butter, and then bake the casserole for 20 minutes. The Lamb with Okra—using real lamb, real okra, real garlic, vinegar, lemon, and tomato—sounds far tastier.

The Complete Book of Outdoor Cookery
(Doubleday, 1955.)
“Complete,” indeed. Recipes ranged from foiled frozen vegetables, roasted bananas, frijoles refritos, and deviled ham steak to broiled marrow bones, roast pheasant with cherries, and truite au bleu. The Complete Book of Outdoor Cookery included instructions for backyard barbecues and picnics, as well as for galley, trailer, and campsite cookery. Beard wrote it with his close friend Helen Brown, a noted food authority and cookbook author on the West Coast. In the book’s preface, they specified just who they thought should do the cooking: “We believe that [charcoal cookery] is primarily a man’s job, and that a woman, if she’s smart, will keep it that way.” Buy this book now!

The James Beard Cookbook
(Dell Publishing Co., 1959. Revised in 1961, 1970, 1987 (paperback), and 1996.)
Beard intended The James Beard Cookbook to have mass-market appeal to “those who are just beginning to cook and say they don’t even know how to boil water; and second, those who have been trying to cook for a while and wonder why their meals don’t taste like mother’s cooking or the food in good restaurants.” It was the first trade paperback cookbook (meaning it began life as a paperback) ever published in the United States. Craig Claiborne’s New York Times review of the book described its author as a “kitchen wizard.” Given the good press, helpful content, and the price tag—75 cents—it’s no surprise it became a classic. Today, you’ll need to shell out a bit more, but no one seems to mind. The cookbook, according to Beard’s longtime friend and editor, John Ferrone, has been Beard’s bestseller. Buy this book now!

Treasury of Outdoor Cooking
(Golden Press, 1960.)
A lavishly produced book, Treasury of Outdoor Cooking brims with photographs of food and reproductions of famous food and wine paintings from Manet, Paul Klee, Picasso, and many more. The book continued in the vein of grilling, spit-and-skewer cooking, pit roasting, and cooking with smoke, but there was plenty more in it as well. As early as 1960, Beard was recommending such essentials for the well-stocked larder as tortillas, canned foie gras, and cannellini beans.

Delights & Prejudices: A Memoir with Recipes
(Atheneum, 1964. Revised in 1981 and 1990.)
Delights & Prejudices, “the novel of [Jim’s] life,” as Barbara Kafka called it, meandered from the Oregon coast to Brazilian beaches, with stops in London and Paris along the way. Julia Child described the book as “a timeless celebration of the good life as well as a very personal view of how one of our gastronomical greats developed his palate and his lifelong passion.” Buy this book now!

James Beard’s Menus for Entertaining
(Delacorte Press, 1965. Revised in 1970, 1975, 1996, and 2004 in paperback.)
“To entertain successfully one must create with the imagination of a playwright, plan with the skill of a director, and perform with the instincts of an actor,” Beard, a consummate entertainer and would-be actor, wrote in the introduction to James Beard’s Menus for Entertaining. The cover photo shows Beard in tuxedo and trademark bow tie, carving a joint festooned with hâtelets. But, like all of Beard’s books, his Menus for Entertaining is eclectic and democratic; it runs the gamut from artichoke bottoms with foie gras and saddle of lamb Prince Orloff to country ham and Irish stew. It offers low-calorie recipes, too. Buy this book now!

How to Eat (and Drink) Your Way through a French (or Italian) Menu
(Atheneum, 1971.)
As record numbers of Americans boarded jet planes to vacation in Europe on their own (rather than as part of organized tours), Beard and his longtime companion Gino Cofacci offered them a helping hand. How to Eat (and Drink) Your Way through a French (or Italian) Menu offered a handy, pocket-sized glossary of translations and explanations of French and Italian dishes. The straightforward book remains as useful today as when it was first published.

James Beard’s American Cookery
(Little, Brown, 1972. Revised in 1980, 1996 in paperback, and 2010 in hardcover.)
Listen to Beard describe his own book, which included some 1,500 recipes, from Blushing Bunny (tomato rarebit) to Cracker (mock apple) Pie: “This is not a book of regional cookery, it is not a collection of family recipes, it is not primarily a critique of American cuisine. It is simply a record of good eating in this country with some of its lore.” Beard went on to express the hope that “we are now in another epoch of gastronomic excellence.” In a New York Times review, Nika Hazelton praised the book as “the value of the year, and as good for us as it will be for our children. The author, who has done more than anybody else to popularize good food in America, puts a lifetime of experience into the page.” Buy this book now!

Beard on Bread
(Knopf, 1973. Revised in 1995, in paperback.)
In the 1960s, whole grains and homemade bread served as political symbols of the health food, ecological, and back-to-the-earth movements. By the next decade, when Beard on Bread was published, Americans had grown increasingly interested in the delicious breads of Europe. Like so many of Beard’s books, Beard on Bread was “both a harbinger of the culinary renaissance and fuel for the flames,” according bread baker and cookbook author Peter Reinhart, who recollected it as an “icon” of the period. “His book was a must for any of us making bread.” Several of us at the Foundation still talk about (and bake) Beard’s anadama loaf and his banana bread. Beard on Bread was reprinted seven times in its first year, sold more than 264,340 copies, and was Beard’s best-selling book in his lifetime, according to Ferrone. Buy this book now!

James Beard Cooks with Corning
Hey, James Beard had to make a living just like everybody else! In 1968, Corning Glass Bakeware introduced a “Counter-that-Cooks” electric range, made with a Pyroceram cooking surface. Beard agreed to endorse it, and wrote a pamphlet with a collection of recipes that took advantage of the stove’s thermostatic surface controls. These are the same stoves we inherited when the Foundation bought the Beard House in 1986.

Beard on Food
(Knopf, 1974. Revised in 2000 and 2007.)
Beard on Food, which describes the places, people, and pleasures that Beard associated with food, is compilation of a series of newspaper columns that he wrote in the early 1970s with the help of José Wilson, his friend and the former editor of House & Garden. In the introduction to the book, William Rice wrote, “the genuineness of James Beard’s lifelong passion for food and cookery is reflected throughout the volume.” Buy this book now!

New Recipes for the Cuisinart Food Processor
It was love at first sight. Traveling in the south of France, Beard saw a food processor at a friend’s restaurant, and he had to have one. He arranged to have a Cuisinart shipped to his home in New York. Back in the States, Beard and his protégé Carl Jerome wrote a booklet of processor recipes that included Beard’s own recipes as well as those of friends Craig Claiborne, Marcella Hazan, Madhur Jaffrey, Barbara Kafka, Jacques Pépin, and André Soltner. According to Beverly Bundy’s The Century in Food, it was the recommendations of Beard and Julia Child that helped Cuisinart become “so hot during the 1976 Christmas season that retailers [sold] empty boxes as promises for future delivery.”

James Beard’s Theory & Practice of Good Cooking
(Knopf, 1977. Revised in 1978, 1986, and 1990.)
As its name suggests, James Beard’s Theory & Practice of Good Cooking explained “the hows, the whys, the techniques, the basics as well as the subtle nuances of good cooking.” Each chapter tackled a basic cooking technique—boiling, roasting, sautéing, and so forth—and gave a set of recipes that put the theory into practice. The book was based on Beard’s cooking classes, and from the very first sentence, readers could rest assured they were in the hands of a master: “Cooking starts with your hands, the most important and basic of all implements. They were the earliest tools for the preparation of food, and they have remained one of the most efficient, sensitive, and versatile. Hands can beat, cream, fold, knead, pat, press, form, toss, tear, and pound.” Prose like this makes us want to get into the kitchen. Buy this book now!

The New James Beard
(Knopf, 1981. Revised in 1989.)
Written when nouvelle cuisine was in full swing, The New James Beard reflected its time as well as Beard’s doctor’s orders. Beard used more herbs, and a lighter hand with butter. “The new me had to write a new book,” he explained in the introduction. The volume, which contained some 1,000 recipes, was tinted with freer attitudes, lighter ingredients, and flavors from the Orient and South America. The New James Beard sold more than 100,000 copies. It was, according to its own jacket cover, Beard’s “crowning work... reflecting his many years of cooking, of experimenting, of widening his repertoire and refining old traditions.” James Villas described the book as “a revised but sensible approach to food that was by no means a diet cookbook, but one that was to take both the public and the food community by storm.” Buy this book now!

Beard on Pasta
(Knopf, 1983. Retitled in 1995 as Beard on Pasta: A James Beard Cookbook.)
Sometime back in the 1970s “macaroni” morphed into “pasta.” We were eating a lot more of the stuff, too. Beverly Bundy’s The Century in Food reports that pasta consumption in America “ballooned” in 1981 to 13 pounds per person per year, from less than half that amount a dozen years earlier. Beard on Pasta, which contained pasta recipes from around the world, capitalized on the trend. Buy this book now!

The Grand Grand Marnier Cookbook
(Date unknown)

Another endorsement, another booklet. This 62-page booklet featured recipes using Grand Marnier. As you’d expect, there are plenty of desserts, but some entrées and sides, too, like chicken with a soy–Grand Marnier marinade, braised lamb shanks with Worcestershire and Grand Marnier, and parsnips with Grand Marnier.

Benson & Hedges 100’s Presents: 100 of the World’s Greatest Recipes by James Beard
Beard wrote that he culled these recipes from more than 60 years of traveling around the world. Although the exact publication date of this small, ring-bound book is a mystery, it’s clear that it was produced at a time when smoking was glamorous and was equated with eating exotic, stylish foreign dishes. In its pages, Benson & Hedges is described as “dedicated to good taste in tobacco,” while Beard is “dedicated to good taste in food.” Just try to light up in a New York City restaurant today!

Several collections of Beard’s columns and writings have been published since his death. We’ve described them here:

The James Beard Cookbook on CuisineVu
Beard goes high-tech. Beard was working on this booklet before his death; unfortunately, he never got to see the finished product. Like so much else about Beard, The James Beard Cookbook on CuisineVu was ahead of its time. No traditional paper cookbook, this was a computer diskette holding some 125 recipes taken from The James Beard Cookbook. We only wish Beard had lived long enough to enjoy sites like www.starchefs.com, www.epicurious.com, and www.foodtv.com.

James Beard’s Simple Foods
(Macmillan, 1993.)
Throughout the mid-1970s, Beard wrote a monthly column—70 in all—for American Airlines’ in-flight magazine, American Way. More than half are included here. The columns—designed as cooking lessons—cover the basics, including a primer on knives and cooking equipment, understanding meat cuts, and tips on outdoor grilling.

Love and Kisses and a Halo of Truffles
(Arcade, 1994. Edited by John Ferrone.)
This may be our favorite Beard book. Love and Kisses and a Halo of Truffles wasn’t published until nearly a decade after he died. It’s a collection of the more than 300 letters that Beard wrote to his friend Helen Evans Brown between 1952 and 1964, when she died of kidney disease. He wrote—as often as three times a week—about his trips, his parties, his work, his likes and dislikes, and food, always food. This volume of letters is Beard raw, before any editors softened his edges, and he is lively and full of fun. In 1956, he complained to Helen about a current project: “I am having home economist battles. I couldn’t use tarragon in the mustard sauce I did, so I substituted rosemary. The home economist sent word that since a housewife would have to have a mortar and pestle for rosemary, she was changing the herb to oregano. I also had called for grated onion, and she said it should be minced because a housewife had no Mouli, which she presumed I had used. I said I was being paid to create flavor and that she should keep rosemary—it didn’t need any mortar and pestle—and that I grated onion because I wanted the juice, and it was done on a dime-store grater. Then she found fault with the cayenne pepper, which I used because I wasn’t allowed to use dry mustard. I tell you these people have no regard for flavor, only for how many steps a housewife has to take.” Buy this book now!

The James Beard Cookbooks
(Edited by John Ferrone. Thames and Hudson, 1997.)
This series of pocket-sized paperbacks, covering a single subject, draws from Beard’s archive of recipes. Shellfish, Soups, Poultry, and Salads give the reader entry into the “files of America’s favorite cook.”

The Armchair James Beard
(Edited by John Ferrone. The Lyons Press, 1999.)
In the introduction, Ferrone writes, “The Armchair James Beard is meant for browsing rather than cooking. It could just as easily have been called The Bedside James Beard, if that’s where you like to meditate on food, or The Patio Beard, or The Poolside Beard. Wherever it is read, Beard’s infectious love of good food and drink is sure to send the reader back into the kitchen.” With intriguingly titled essays such as “Even Vinegar Has a Mother” and “Tabitha Tickletooth’s Way with Potatoes,” we don’t doubt it. Buy this book now!